Monthly Archives February 2016

Feb 27, 2016

The Power of a Childhood Peer Group

Rite of Passage Four –First Love–
From the book ‘Flash of Silver…the leap that changed my world’
Question #11 ‘Peer Group’
(1945 – age 11)


How soon do you recall being concerned about your own peer group’s opinion of you, as an individual?

During my public school years I had been advanced to the senior school because of my height and found myself unable to find a peer group. Everyone else was at least a year older. It wasn’t until I arrived at Michael Hall, the Rudolf Steiner School, that I had the opportunity to relate to my own age group and discover my peers.

This coeducational school had no grade system or exams and even played games without scoring. It was a huge relief after the trauma of my immediate past. I recall being something of an oddity since the other students had, for the most part, been there for 4-5 years, always with Ms. Dawson as the class teacher.
I was, nonetheless, welcomed for who I was, not for what I had left behind. At no time did I ever feel that I had to try to gain approval. The no grades method spilled over into our relationships and meant that nobody was the most popular or best liked; we just didn’t have to compete with each other.

I look back on this treasured time with one profound regret. I wished that I had been able to remain at that school until I graduated…alas this was not to be. My whole life has been a ‘moving feast’, just long enough to find a friend and then to say goodbye, not unlike the life of a military ‘brat’?

I wonder if these short term associations with my peers was to lead me to always be somewhat ‘set apart’ and with very few deep friendships?

ROP 3 caption "class at Michael Hall school" set on left. "There were no marks or grades on papers...."(DONEx3)

Class at Michael Hall school.

So…what about now?

At some point in one’s life the peer group moves from personal to professional.
It’s no longer so much about friendship as respect and not really a matter of hanging out with one another on a day-by-day basis.

In the heat of the battle I was fiercely competitive with those who did what I was trying to do. For the most part I wanted to be better rather than trying to ‘put them down’.

My behavior as the Galloping Gourmet had drawn me into a separate class of ‘gourmet’ than had hitherto been the case. Few, if any, ‘foodie’ has ever jumped over chairs and told shaggy dog stories before cooking a dish from some remote corner of the world.

I know that many of my well-known peers at that time were, to say the least…unimpressed. I didn’t blame them; if I had been in their kitchen clogs I would have felt the same.

Over time, however, I do feel that I have made several deep and lasting friendships with individuals whose professional and personal lives I respect and admire.

That early experience at the non-competitive school has never left me. It was, (and is) such a splendid idea and would solve so many of today’s aggressive contests.

Imagine a world in which we might be at peace with all men. One in which we might consider others as more worthy of attention than ourselves. Utopian? sure, but isn’t that better than simply drowning in the present day alternative?


Feb 27, 2016



[sc_embed_player fileurl=”″]  Tranquility


laughing waters
whisper secrets,
quietly telling
stirring stories,
to captured eddies.
gently soothing
the waterfalls
chuckle, chortle reflecting all
in mirrored lake.
placid lilies
calmly drifting
upon this lake
God names,
His, Tranquility.
Feb 20, 2016

Let’s Dare to Compare

Rite of Passage Four –First Love–
From the book ‘Flash of Silver…the leap that changed my world’
Question #11 ‘Preoccupation’
(1945 – age 11)


First love has a way of taking over one’s mind…almost completely. Is this very human Rite of Passage any different today than it was in our past?

I found myself delighted last week that my blog on meeting Treena should coincide with Valentines Day. It was completely unplanned! Today’s blog is just one more like-minded memory from those early days.

I was totally preoccupied with this new sensation. I was in love before I had the slightest idea what that meant. The only evidence of such a possibility was seeing such movies as The Stratton Story, staring June Allyson and Jimmy Stewart, that we went to see at the cinema in East Grinstead (UK). This was way before television and our favorite radio program ‘Dick Barton Special Agent’ contained not the slightest clue about young love.

There was the poet Shelley whose poem ‘Love’s Philosophy’ allowed gentle words to begin to provide some early stirrings of our emotion. “The fountains mingle with the river, and the rivers with the ocean…”

Love’s Philosophy


The fountains mingle with the river

And the rivers with the ocean,

The winds of heaven mix for ever

With a sweet emotion;

Nothing in the world is single;

All things by a law divine

In one spirit meet and mingle.

Why not I with thine?—

See the mountains kiss high heaven

And the waves clasp one another;

No sister-flower would be forgiven

If it disdained its brother;

And the sunlight clasps the earth

And the moonbeams kiss the sea:

What is all this sweet work worth

If thou kiss not me?


It was the reading of Shelley and in the holding of hands that I found my greatest and deepest longing; a desire to never ever let her go.

Treena was my first love, she was ten and I was just eleven. I was not her first “boyfriend”; that honor went to Tony Thames from the village of Forest Row. They had written to each other and we took his letters to the local bridge, tore them up and dropped them in the river…

…and I watched Tony float around the bend!

So…what about now?

I watch, with utter amazement, at how the vast flood of often explicit sexual content that targets young people is changing everything!

Birds and bees appear now to be almost laughingly redundant.

June Allyson’s devotion to her “husband” Jimmy Stewart has been replaced by the practical benefits of using condoms.

Oh, I know, I’m now old enough to be expected to huff and puff a bit but I find I’m more likely to groan over this apparent loss of innocence.

If there is one overreaching emotion I have about my early years and the first blush of love it is one of…gratitude.

My life then was without callouses, it was tender and cut adrift from the world about us. It was, in one word…heavenly! But then, in those days, the word heaven had not been hijacked and brought down to the base level of today’s derisive debates between competing political ideologies.

It was like the brush of a young girls hand against mine…ahhhh



P.S. This week I read Treena’s poem “So Be It

Feb 20, 2016

So Be It


[sc_embed_player fileurl=”″]  So Be It

So Be It

He came.
He saw.
He overcame.
He died.
He rose.
He conquered.
He gave.
He saved.
He loved.

We hope.
We try
to overcome.
We too
Would love,
As did He.
We fail Him
Too often.

He will
Never fail.
Abba Father,
Jesus Son,
Holy Spirit,
All are One.
As can we
Be One in Him.

Feb 13, 2016

First Love

Flash of Silver…the leap that changed my world
Question #3
Rite of Passage Three –No Longer Alone-

(11-12 years old)

First Love

Q. What do you remember most about the one you first felt the stirrings of attraction?

It has to be the most measurable of all human emotions –the day we first fell in love!

At 8-9 years old I wanted flaxen-haired Sylvia to see me in my new Scout hat –but this was altogether different.

Treena had tight curly black hair. I’m not sure how I described her to my parents at the time because words such as lovely or petite orbeautiful don’t trip easily from an eleven-year-old tongue. Yes, she was all of those superlatives rolled up in one attention getting young woman.

I fell hard. I couldn’t get her out of my mind.

Our hands eventually touched and quite simply I knew that I loved and was being loved.

All of this is sometimes called ‘calf love’ and may, in some cases, be remembered as a pre-hormone discovery that simply and sweetly begins to fade…taken over with stronger, more urgent, teenage passions.

Those early years formed every foundation and every deep relationship I’ve ever had. In one wonderful moment (as I describe in my book) I had become aware of going beyond myself in order to give my full (only child) affection to someone of my own age.

I never once forgot that amazing experience. It did fade for eight years, it did encounter competitive adolescence, but in time that too was vanquished and… Well now, that would we a spoiler wouldn’t it?

So…what about now?

My life is now awash with memories. The first hand experience of day-to-day life with a loved one is now over for me.

Treena began her ‘sleep’ just five days short of our 60th wedding anniversary on September 17, 2015

We were able to love each other right up to her last breath and even then, as I closed her lovely eyes and kissed her brow – I knew, not in a religious way, but deeply in my heart, that what we had shared, for a span of seventy-one years, had not ended and would never do so.

There were moments in our time together when passions raged, when love was wrenching and almost unbearable –beyond the ability to breathe.

No matter the intensity it came full circle back to the holding of eleven-year-old hands…such purity, such discovery, such absolute sweetness that now uplifts my lonely moments.

I do have a pretty long list of regrets when I could have done better but that too has been slowly covered with the “good soil” of wiser choices until they are scarcely even recognized.

I loved, was loved, and continued in that love for all but seventy-one years. I am, in short, a grateful man who shared a good life with an amazing woman…Treena, the love of my life.


Feb 13, 2016



[sc_embed_player fileurl=”″]  Self-worth


I wandered lonely through the fields
whilst searching for a worth in self.
I saw fresh leaves upon old trees;
wild flowers dressing fields anew
brought butterflies of every hue,
each uniquely individual.
The smallest wing, the tiniest petal
each so delicately settled.
Perfection – Worth a lingering stare.
Nature’s self-worth was everywhere.
I stirred upon the rugged fence
on which I sat and there did muse,
“I too am fashioned by the Hand
that has created nature’s way!”
Suddenly – a restless breeze breathed
a solace prayer into my heart.
“The secret of mankind’s self-worth
is through the searching soul’s rebirth.
Believe and trust in Me, my Child,
My inward care will soon disclose –
all of Creation is divine;
though nature’s breathless beauty blinds,
nothing compares with humankind!”
With heart and soul restored in Him,
escorted by the Comforter –
I returned, fixed in Love and hope,
to wander lonely never more –
for now, I knew His original intent,
was to be His humble instrument
that lays close by His feet to use
for those that need Him introduced.
Feb 06, 2016

Is academic competition a good thing?

Flash of Silver…the leap that changed my world
Question #2
Rite of Passage Three –No Longer Alone-

Q. Are all the measurements of achievement really necessary? When marks (grades) and scores are removed, does achievement suffer, or is there a greater sense of self-worth?

I went from a highly regimented British public school (a curious name for a private school) to a Rudolf Steiner school called Michael Hall in Forest Row, Sussex, England.

Rudolf Steiner was a German educator who introduced a number of innovative ideas amongst which was…no marks or grades or position in class, none at all!

The difference this made in my young life was remarkable. I went from fear and failure to full acceptance for just who I was; without being measured or compared to any of my fellow students. I’m actually grinning to myself as I seek out the words to describe how wonderful it was to go to school and delight in learning.

At eleven years old I was placed in Ms. Dawson’s class with other youngsters of my age. They were a friendly lot who, for the most part, had been with Ms. Dawson since they were six and would stay with her until they were sixteen. Imagine, one teacher for ones whole school life. No need for measurement when you are that well known and cared for so consistently.

There were other ‘specialist’ teachers who helped us with other languages, woodworking, gardening and yes…knitting!

Michael Hall was co-educational; both boys and girls took every class –no his or her differentiation was made as to subject interest or proficiency…everyone got to ‘have a go’.

This extraordinary method even influenced the sports field where I introduced the game of Cricket. We didn’t score runs; we bowled and batted our way through lovely afternoons and no team ever won!

Just try tennis where you hit a ball back and forth for a fun half-hour.  It’s like a warm-up before a match that never starts.

I can almost hear the ‘Humph!” of disapproval from the legions of us that have endured competition as a way of “preparing us for the real world” where, like the salmon ‘smolt’ (a young salmon after the parr stage) in my story one either eats or gets eaten!

Surely that is what life is about…a daily contest between winners (1%) and relative losers (the rest of us?)

I was hugely grateful for the relief this brought to my life and my sense of self-worth.

I was happy with who I was in the midst of others who shared in the common joyful purpose of discovery.

So…what about now?

Talk about measurement!

We are told that true success begins in kindergarten, at 4-5 years old, where the games we play can shape us for the real world of even childhood.

Test, test, test…measure, measure, measure…all urged on with the grand prize of winning a scholarship to a great school that will almost guarantee you a favored place in the community of fellow ‘strivers’!

How good to be so measurably “bright” “talented” and “destined for success”.

How challenging to be near the bottom of the class and athletically “clumsy”?

But that’s the way that life is…right?

I like to think that Ms. Dawson’s acceptance of this Pubic School boy and her approval of my interest in trying to understand what she patiently taught us…was what fueled my lifelong pursuit of discoveryand how unimpressed I became of the “ratings” that would measure my later success on television.

I did that show because I loved it and the only opinion that really mattered was my wife Treena’s. Treena, who produced the show, gave me my very own, very private, “grade” for each program.

ROP 27 p.4

ROP 27 p.4

In a rather lovely way, she took over from Ms. Dawson.

You will meet Treena in my next blog. We fell in love at Michael Hall.

Feb 06, 2016



[sc_embed_player fileurl=”″]  Seldom


We have two eyes that seldom see,
Two ears that seldom heed
A nose that seldom will delight,
In flowers or a tree.
We only see the outward sign
And seldom look within
We seldom seek a new idea
Thus never can begin
We seldom listen properly
We seldom have the mind
To listen to another’s cries
Or give them of our time.